August 30, 2017
La Vuelta 2017 – Stage 11 – Lorca – Calar Alto : 187,5 km
The 2017 Vuelta a España is a three-week Grand Tour cycling stage race scheduled to take place in Spain between 19 August and 10 September 2017.
August 30, 2017
La Vuelta 2017 – Stage 11 – Lorca – Calar Alto : 187,5 km
The 2017 Vuelta a España is a three-week Grand Tour cycling stage race scheduled to take place in Spain between 19 August and 10 September 2017. The race will be the 72nd edition of the Vuelta a España and will be the final Grand Tour of the 2017 cycling season. The race is scheduled to start in Nîmes, France and finish in Madrid. It will be the first time the race has started in France and only the third time it has started outside Spain, after 1997 (Portugal) and 2009 (Netherlands).
Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) claimed victory at Calar Alto after a stinging late attack to drop the major GC contenders. Race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky) did his best to bring back the Colombian but Lopez proved too strong on the day.
Froome had to settle for second place on the day, taking the bonus seconds with it, with Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) coming home behind him for third place. Froome’s closest challengers in the overall classification, Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) and Nicolas Roche (BMC Racing) lost large amounts of time, with Chaves crossing the line well over a minute behind Froome and his companions.
Froome has thus extended his overall lead with Nibali now in second place at 1:13 back from the Team Sky rider. Chaves clung to his podium place, now at 2:33, while Roche slipped right out of the top 10.
It had been described as a medium mountain stage, but the final ascent to the Observatorio Astronomico de Calar Alto would cause fissures in the overall standings. The early part of the climb was taken at a steady pace, but an attack from Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) inside the final 10 kilometres saw Chaves, Roche and Fabio Aru (Astana) shelled out the back.
His team leader may have been struggling behind but Astana allowed Lopez to tag along with the GC contenders, sitting comfortably in the group as Bahrain-Merida upped the tempo.
Perhaps sensing some weakness in Froome, Nibali made the first real attacking effort in the final two kilometres. Lopez was the first to make the juncture and as Froome approached he surged again. Froome battled back up towards the Colombian, but realised that he would likely lose more than he would gain as Lopez charged again. Lopez eventually broke free, crossing the line some 14 seconds before his chasers and would move into the top 10 overall.
How it happened
When it rains it pours, or so goes the saying, and that was the case at the Vuelta a Espana. After a wet introduction to the second week, the rain continued to drench the peloton on stage 11. It would be a day of two halves for the riders with a relatively flat opening section contrasted by a brutal run of two first category climbs to end the day.
Stage 8 winner Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) opened the attacking, but he would not be among the 14 that finally moved clear after 40 kilometres of racing. A mixture of rouleurs and strong climbers formed the breakaway, including Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors). Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Antonio Pedrero (Movistar), Lennard Hofstede (Sunweb), Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac), Antwan Tolhoek (LottoNL-Jumbo), Matej Mohoric (UAE Team Emirates), Sander Armée (Lotto Soudal), Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida), Igor Anton (Dimension Data), David Arroyo (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Conor Dunne (Aqua Blue Sport) and Aldemar Reyes (Manzana Postobon) completed the group.
The break’s advantage would close in on the five-minute mark at the halfway point, but it would be allowed to go no further. Team Sky kept up their end of the bargain, managing the pace in the peloton for race leader Froome. Orica-Scott pitched in too and as the race approached the first climb of the day the gap would be cut to 2:30.
Form and skill set was immediately apparent as the break began the climb, with several riders shot out the back almost as soon as the road went upwards. Well down in the classification after a difficult opening week, Bardet set a punishing pace on the climb. Armee, Anton, Jungels, Tolhoek and Reyes initially came with him but that would be whittled down as the altitude increased.
The gap severely diminished, Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) saw his opportunity to strike out from the peloton. With Esteban Chaves and his brother Adam the biggest threats from the Orica-Scott team in the overall classification, Simon was allowed to ride clear. By the time Yates made it to the front, the complexion had changed with Bardet, Armee and Visconti now leading the way. Darwin Atapuma (UAE Team Emirates) would soon join the leaders over the top, while Armee was dropped as he picked his way down the twisting descent, losing almost a minute to his companions.
The climb up Calar Alto
Yates and Bardet were the driving force on the descent and by the time they hit the final climb, the advantage over the peloton had pushed past the two-minute mark once again. Having looked like it would be a GC day, the breakaway seemed like it stood a shot at contesting the victory. Although Visconti was out of the picture after also getting distanced on the descent.
Yates would be the next to lose contact as Bardet and Atapuma forged clear with 13 kilometres to go. Meanwhile, Team Sky and Bahrain-Merida drove the pace at the front of the peloton, gradually reducing the numbers as the metres ticked by with Froome looming close to the front throughout. The status quo remained for some time until Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) decided to launch a speculative attack, soon to be joined by Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida). The pair would be brought back but it would do some serious damage, dropping Froome’s closest rivals Chaves and Nicolas Roche (BMC Racing). Fabio Aru (Astana) would also find himself in trouble.
Froome stuck to the back of the group as his teammates and Bahrain-Merida chomped into the advantage of the two leaders. With eight kilometres remaining, they were just 15 seconds back while Chaves toiled at a minute behind. Franco Pellizotti ground out the high tempo for Bahrain-Merida, finally bringing the remaining escapees to heel with just over seven kilometres to go.
It is hard to tell when Froome is on a bad day, but the race leader did not look overly comfortable under the pace set by Pellizotti, with only Mikel Nieve for company with three kilometres to go. Pellizotti finally moved off the front with 2.5km to go, allowing Nieve to charge forwards. It soon became apparent that Froome was not at his best and Nibali took his chance to attack with two kilometres to the line.
Nibali struggled to snap the elastic as the riders behind scrambled to bring him back. Lopez was the first to do so and Froome also almost made contact when the Astana rider kicked again. Froome once again looked as if he would bring back Lopez but, after glancing over his shoulder, the Colombian pushed clear. The race leader decided to cut his losses and Lopez quickly increased his gap to take a convincing solo victory. Froome and Nibali were next to cross the line with Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb), who had a very good day in the mountains. Chaves fought valiantly, but he would cross the line 2:05 after his compatriot Lopez.
1 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 5:05:09
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:14
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
4 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:31
6 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo
7 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
8 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky
9 Darwin Atapuma (Col) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:02
10 David De La Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:01:14
General Classification after Stage 11 :
1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 45:18:01
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:19
3 Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-Scott 0:02:33
4 David de la Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:02:36
5 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:02:37
6 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 0:02:38
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:02:57
8 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 0:03:01
9 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 0:03:55
10 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:04:11